Customers line up outside the Apple store on Fifth Avenue in New York awaiting… (Don Emmert, AFP/Getty Images )
If record pre-orders are any indication, expect some huge lines when the iPhone 5 hits stores Friday.
Apple Inc. obliterated its single-day sales record for iPhone pre-sales, announcing that it took orders for more than 2 million iPhone 5s last Friday. That was more than double its previous mark of 1 million iPhones ordered the first day of pre-sales in October for the iPhone 4S.
The massive iPhone 5 numbers pushed Apple's stock past $700 a share for the first time in after-hours trading Monday. The shares closed at $699.78, up $8.50, or 1.2%. The world's most valuable company is now worth nearly $656 billion — about six times its value in June 2007, when it released the first iPhone.
And with shoppers already beginning to line up at an Apple retail store in New York City, the device's official release Friday could break even more records.
"The customer response to iPhone 5 has been phenomenal," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing.
The Cupertino, Calif., company said demand for the phone quickly exceeded the initial supply, so although the majority of pre-orders will be delivered Friday, many will be delayed for shipment until October.
The demand was so overwhelming that it intermittently crashed Apple's website and sites of retail partners in the first few hours after the phone became available for pre-sale. In just one hour, Apple.com sold out its release-day stock. AT&T and Verizon also announced their own shipping delays.
The hoopla over the new phone — which features a 4-inch retina display screen, 4G LTE high-speed connectivity, better cameras, iOS 6 and a smaller dock connector — is unprecedented, analysts said.
"The challenge will be for folks to calibrate their expectations," said Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. He's predicting that Apple will sell 58 million iPhones in the holiday quarter.
The iPhone is Apple's premier product, with more than 244 million sold since its debut five years ago, not including pre-sales of the iPhone 5. Sales of iPhones and related products and services accounted for 46% of Apple's revenue in the most recent quarter and 58% in the previous quarter; about 60% of Apple's profits are estimated to come from the iPhone.
In its last fiscal year, Apple reported revenue of $47.1 billion from iPhones and related products and services, up 87% from the previous fiscal year.
Every year, the race to be among the first to get the newest iPhone spurs Black Friday-like lines at Apple stores around the country. Southern California mall operators are expecting an onslaught of Apple customers camped outside Apple stores starting Thursday.
The iPhone 5 will go on sale at 356 Apple retail stores in the U.S. at 8 a.m. local time Friday. It will also be sold at wireless carriers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, and retailers including Best Buy, Radio Shack, Target and Wal-Mart.
The phone rolls out to 22 more countries Sept. 28.